Tuna Tar-Tart

I suck at everything. Probably more than you do. I enjoy experimenting with cheese and playing with glue sticks. You might know me from that other joint, LiveJournal.

Jul 142020
 

We’re limping along at a snail’s pace over here, but things are kind of happening! (And I do mean limping. Henry and I both hurt our backs, although MINE IS WORSE/MORE DRAMATIC.)

Halfway through last week, we finished painting 3/4 of the room. The floor was still plywood at that point. I did the stripes! Everyone likes that part the best and I’m so gloaty about it. We still have the wall behind the fridge/sink to paint. That will be yellow, and the cabinets will be a combination of all four wall colors. 

Things were at a standstill for the most part during last week though, since we both work (Henry does not work from home, sadly, although perhaps this is a blessing considering how many people have been splitting during quarantine?) And naturally, since our house is in ruins, the serial killer and kpop card orders have been rolling in. Henry flipped out at one point out of card-making stress and I offered to put our Etsy shops on vacation but he told me not to, so….he secretly loves it.

In the meantime, I busied myself with design details. I know right now it’s like, “OK, that’s moderately 80s, I guess…” but once it’s finished, it will be the 1980s nostalgia palace of my dreams. 

I found this fabric to make a curtain for the door that leads into the back porch!! And a rug that features the signage of various 1980s arcade games! Both of these things should be here by the end of the month, and I can’t wait!

Then I went on an eBay rampage and found this poster from the 1988 Olympics! The 80s, Olympics, and SOUTH KOREA: all things that are near and dear to my heart, (Still fucking sad about the 2020 Olympics.)

Finally, on Saturday, Henry put the floor in! And by “put the floor in” I mean that he literally rolled it out, cut it to size, and glued it down with some pasty-cement shit. This floor is super fucking cheap because we don’t own this place and didn’t want to put much of our own money into it, but shit, he could’ve just left it sitting there, unglued, and it still would have been a million percent better than what was originally there. He could have just left the exposed plywood there and even that would have been better!

Saturday night, Henry and Chooch finished putting the counter together, which meant we able to put *some* stuff away! I was like BLESSED BE! and started a conga line of pots-and-pans. It only made a small dent in the mountain of “kitchen” that has grown on the back porch. I mourn for the days (two weeks ago) when I was able to enjoy my morning coffee in the comfort of the back porch. Now you can’t even see the chairs :( 

After a brief discussion, Henry and Chooch went out on Saturday and bought a new stove. Let me tell you something about our old stove: my dad bought it for me, used, from the Pennysaver when I first moved into this house in 1999.

In 1999! So you can imagine, buying it from the Pennysaver, that sucker was probably already at least 15 years old.

Granted, I don’t cook, hardly ever, so I was like, “Cool…?” and mostly used it to store chips and other assorted snacks, lol. But then Henry moved in a few years later and was like, “Why is your oven a pantry” and then proceeded to actually USE it. That’s also when I learned that there was a broiler at the bottom of it! I always just thought it was like, a loose panel or something! 

So yeah, with Chooch now flexing his own chef muscle, we felt that it was time to upgrade, also the vanity in me was like, “why would we put that gross stove back in the kitchen after spending all this time making the room look cute?” 

It’s an LG and it makes a cute Korean subway-esque jingle when it turns on and when the timer goes off! Granted, I don’t give a shit about cooking things, but Chooch and Henry are happy, so thanks COVID-check. 

I guess. 

Meanwhile, I’ve unlocked the level of “COVID Says Stay Home!” where I’m carousing eBay like a predator in a van, buying up vintage postcards from my favorite childhood vacation spot, Wildwood, NJ, and then finding myself negotiating with the Wildwood Historical Society when one of the postcards is unavailable. DON’T WORRY: I found another seller who had it, and it’s currently en route to my house.

Yeah, so I thought it would be fun to frame some of these and hang them in the kitchen, because 1980s summers were the best summers, fight me. (Actually, don’t; my back is fucking busted.)

I also have some 1980s Halloween masks on the way! I have been doing v. important things over here while Henry is taking his good ol’ time with flooring and painting.

Yesterday’s progress was….well, it wasn’t really progress at all. Henry and Chooch built the Ikea pantry-thingie that Henry measured fifty million times and was SO CERTAIN it was going to FIT PERFECTLY between the wall and the stove.

Nope.

Doesn’t fit. 

The measurements didn’t account for the lip on the counter and the fact that this house is old AF and the walls are crooked. So Henry had to cut out some of the plaster from that striped bump-out in the corner, and he almost made it fit but now there’s something going on with the heat vent on the other wall and he basically just wants to burn down the whole house and start over in a forest, cottage-core style. 

He claims he can “make it work” and I stopped listening because I was afraid the words “tear down the wall” were going to march off his tongue to the tune of Jack Hammer Sonata. 

In between all of this, he has started the tedious task of scraping the old paint off the kitchen cabinets so that we “can repaint them and do it right this time.” Whatever that means. He has this cool heat gun thing that looks like a space weapon and I am desperate to use it but every time I ask if I can help, he says NO.

This would have been done by now if Henry trusted me with tools (and to keep my temper) and if Chooch could care a little more. Maybe if we convinced him that this renovation project was sponsored by Minecraft, he’d be more available. 

OMG IT’S HAPPENING. IT IS SO SCARY AND LOUD THAT IT ACTUALLY DOES SOUND LIKE HE’S KNOCKING DOWN THE WALL AFTER ALL, OMG.

I hope Blake and Haley’s babies aren’t napping next door because if they were, well, they’re not now. 

OK, I think I’m going to end the kitchen update here. (I mean, just the recap of it, but trust me there have been a million times during this process where I have said WE HAVE MADE A MISTAKE. LET’S JUST STOP HERE WHILE WE’RE AHEAD.)

(OMG I hope Henry doesn’t saw his hand off. I’m scared.)

 

Jul 122020
 

When I was on my yacht rock kick last weekend, this old Benny Mardones video came on the YouTube playlist and I considered living the rest of my life in chastity, to be honest, because holy shit wow ew holy creepy predatorville. I used to LOVE this song when I was younger too and never actually saw the music video for it until maybe 10 years ago and I remember feeling shocked to the core, because if Benny Mardones was calling me up on a payphone, I 100% would change my number with a quickness.

Have I posted about this before? I feel like I may have. It’s nuts to think that there was ever a time when it was “ok” for something like this to exist! I guess when I was a teenager, I just shrugged off the lyrics? MAYBE I LIKED IT?

IS THIS WHY I ENDED UP WITH AN OPPA 14 YEARS MY SENIOR?

Shit. It all adds up.

Anyway, watch that video. Sweet dreams!

HOLY SHIT Henry just Wiki’d him and he just fucking died on June 29 of this year! And then he just screamed, “HE WAS 33 WHEN HE WROTE THAT SONG! ABOUT A 16 YEAR OLD!” As if Henry isn’t a cradle robber too.

Jul 122020
 

Today I am going to talk about the second half of the books I read in June. You know, similar to what the title of this blog post suggests.

9. Costalegre – Courtney Maum

Costalegre: A Novel Inspired By Peggy Guggenheim and Her Daughter

Admittedly, I didn’t look too much into this when I started reading it, but somewhere along the way, I had added it to my TBR and the cover is gorgeous, so at one point I had some interest in reading it?

This is inspired by Peggy Guggenheim and her daughter, and follows the 15-year-old daughter of an eccentric American heiress and art collector and a group of artists she has brought with her to her…secret? home in Mexico in order to hide and protect them from Hitler, who has issued a list of “cultural degenerates” right before the start of the war.

Sounds heavy, but it’s actually pretty light for the most part. The artists are, as expected, totally wack and have bizarre and tense rapport with each other, but the main theme of the book if the isolation and neglect experienced by the daughter, who is trying to figure out her own talents.

I thought this book had a lot of potential but it just sort of fell flat for me.

But again, THAT COVER THO!

10. The Chestnut Man – Søren Sveistrup

The Chestnut Man

As expected, I really enjoyed this one! It’s written by the creator of The Killing, the American version of which was one of my favorite TV shows of all time, I’m not even being dramatic here. The first two seasons aired on AMC back in the early 2010s, and as so many good shows do, got canceled. AMC was like FINE and brought it back for a third, but then canceled it again! There was more outrage until Netflix picked it up, but only for one more season, sadly. (Of course, those seasons weren’t as good, but still, I love this show so hard and would sometimes play it in the background while I was working, just for the comforting vibes of it.)

But yeah, this a really great Danish thriller which follows several characters, including two police officers/detectives who are begrudgingly paired up JUST LIKE THE KILLING. Ugh, and I had the audiobook playing too and the narrative had a great voice and this book just flew by for me.

It was thrilling and also scary at times, and I wasn’t able to solve it which actually always pisses me off when I do! This is just a great book and I’m looking forward to reading more by him, and also trying to find the original version of The Killing, which I have been putting off for too long now.

If you’ve never watched The Killing, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. I don’t think it’s on Netflix anymore, sadly, but I think Amazon Prime might have it? Fun fact: I automatically start crying when I hear the theme:

Oh for God’s sake, I just watched the last 4 minutes of the series finale on YouTube and I am full-on sobbing I hate myself.

11. In the Dream House – Carmen Maria Machado

In the Dream House: A Memoir

This was one of the most creative suckerpunch of a memoir, I swear to god. Carmen (who also narrates the audiobook and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT) uses a full arsenal of tropes and prompts to detail her years in an abusive same-sex relationship. There is even a Choose Your Own Adventure section of this book! It’s fun, which is strange to say given the extremely dark and triggering subject matter, but I kept finding myself doing the whole, “Just one more chapter. OK, one more” song-and-dance before bedtime, because I couldn’t wait to see what inventive narrative she was going to spring on me next.

I had a visceral reaction to this book, goosebumps through the whole thing. I bow down to Carmen Maria Machado. She makes me want to start writing again, and there is not much out there that does that for me anymore! All I could do was whisper “damn” when I read the last line, and then spent the next 30 minutes doing that post-cry body-racking sniffle.

Machado is a masterful writer, and I hate that she was exposed to such nastiness and abuse, but there was a moment toward the end of the book where I legit screamed OMG STFU and felt so goddamn happy for her. I can’t wait to read everything she writes.

Please read this. It’s, well, amazing. A solid 5-star for me.

12. Get a Life, Chloe Brown – Talia Hibbert

Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters, #1)

No. Romances in general aren’t my cuppa, but I gave this a shot because I kept seeing great reviews and there’s good representation in it, plus it’s British so I thought that would help. But I just DIDN’T CARE ABOUT EITHER OF THESE PEOPLE. And maybe I’m a dick, but the constant reminder that the guy had a long shiny curtain of red hair.

I hated this book. But I liked the cat. I wish there was more about the cat.

13. Freshwater – Akwaeke Emezi 

Freshwater

Definitely not a book for everyone. I tried to explain it to Henry and he was like “………” It follows a young Nigerian woman with multiple personalities, starting from her birth. Ada’s story is actually told from the perspective of the others living inside her, the “brothersisters” called Ogbanje, which are reincarnating spirits hat causes grief or pain.

It’s eerie and sad, and I am so glad that I read it even though I’m positive that I didn’t actually understand a lot of what was happening, it was powerful and something that I’ll think about a lot.

14. Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie

YES QUEENIE. I wish I had skipped Chloe Brown and just read this twice instead. So, I didn’t know much about this at all, but then I saw that it was compared to Bridget Jones’ Diary and I was like, “Oh no, I might not like this.” But it is so much heavier than that and actually quite disturbing at times. It follows Queenie, a young Jamaican British woman, trying to get back on her feet after “going on a break” with her long-term boyfriend. Through a series of REALLY irresponsible sexual exploits, Queenie’s whole world starts to crumble and as a reader, you’re over here shouting, “QUEENIE, NO! YOU’RE BETTER THAN THAT! PLEASE RESPECT YOURSELF!” I actually saw a lot of reviews on YouTube calling this book problematic, but I thought it was kind of honest too. I mean, I can remember when I broke up with my first long-term boyfriend, Psycho Mike – I went wild, man. At the time, I thought I was filling a void, or “trying out what I couldn’t have before,” but looking back, I was like, “Shit, where was my self respect!?”

So I get where those people are coming from, but I also think that this kind of reaction to a huge life change is, well, not normal, but not uncommon and it shows that sometimes people truly need to hit rock bottom before they can begin their triumph ascent, and I felt that this is what happened with Queenie.

Sure, there were times when I wanted to slap her for being so obtuse and oblivious to her own well-being and the problems of her friends, but mostly, I loved her as a character and just wanted the best for her! And her friends (The Corgis) were all so different and hilarious, and they REALLY not only held Queenie up as a person, but also as a book. There is also a healthy dose of Black Lives Matter woven in as well, as Queenie’s ex-boyfriend is white and some of the interactions she had with his family…well. You can imagine.

I can’t wait for whatever Candice Carty-Williams does next!

15. How We Fight For Our Lives – Saeed Jones

How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir

I’ve been accidentally reading a lot of memoirs lately and I don’t know why! It’s hard to rate memoirs because it’s someone’s life, you know? But this was another really great and poignant read. Saeed Jones is a writer for Buzzread, I believe, and he details in this book what it’s like to not only grow up black in the south, but also gay. From the time he’s in elementary school to going off to college, you really get to watch him come out in increments. Definitely hard and uncomfortable to read at times as he details the ways he essentially seeks out derogation and abuse in the bedroom (he is nearly killed at one point), but the second half of the book focuses a lot on his relationship with his mother and BITCH I KNEW I WAS GONNA CRY.

Saeed Jones is a gift.

16. Black Girl Unlimited – Echo Brown

Black Girl Unlimited

Another book that I had no idea what I was getting into when I started reading it but was pleasantly surprised! I just thought it was a YA novel about a girl who was training to be a wizard but OH SHIT SON this book is apparently semi-autobiographical and it is at most times dark AF and hits HARD in nearly every chapter. At a certain point, you realize that the wizardry aspect of the book is how the main character, her mother, and several other female characters cope with trauma.

And there is a lot a trauma in this book. Drugs, sexual abuse, poverty. Echo spent so much of her childhood trying to keep her mom alive, protect her younger brothers, and maintain good grades—I rooted for hard for her. This book *might* be considered YA but I think it’s an important read for adults too.

***

Well that’s what I read in June. Sorry if these book posts are boring but I like to do this because I always forget what I read and if I liked it and for some reason I never feel like writing reviews on Goodreads, oh right, because I’m not good at writing reviews!

Jul 102020
 

Here I am, reporting from the Pioneer Ave construction site. Kitchen is still not done. SOS. How hard can this really be? Anyway, here are five things going on right now that may or may not be kitchen-related, and no, the irony of a person who has little use for a kitchen complaining about not having a functioning one is not lost on me, thanks. (Literally, in our team meeting this week, Glenn butted in to ask, “Do you even know what a kitchen is for?” and I said, “YES, IT’S FOR HAVING A WINDOW WHERE I SPY ON MY NEIGHBORS, NICE TRY, GLENN.”)

  1. THE YACHT ROCK WEEKEND

I mentioned in my dumb weekend update post that I went to Home Depot with Henry but what I failed to mention was that I stayed in the car and listened to the YACHT ROCK STATION which I never knew existed. Yacht rock is my favorite subgenre of soft rock so I was perfectly fine to hang back while he was in the store, especially when England Dan and John Ford Coley came on and I am happy to report that I still know all the words to their masterpiece “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” which I fucking SCREAMED theatrically. Oh shit I love that song so much. Then Grover Washington’s Just the Two Of Us was next and I was shrieking “BUILDING CASTLES IN THE SKY” like a fucking maniac, please send me back to the 80s.

(Side note: that song always makes me thinks of the time Henry sent Chooch and me to CVS to buy a newspaper and we were panicking because we couldn’t find it, but then “Just the Two Of Us” came on and I found the newspapers! WE CAN MAKE IT IF WE TRY!)

(Side note 2: on Twitter last week, I erroneously said that it reminded me of the time Chooch and I conquered the RedBox but that was apparently a separate incident which also involved CVS. We have many incidents.)

Anyway, I was really inspired by this station, so when we went back home, I blasted more yacht rock while Henry worked on the kitchen and every once in awhile he’d emerge in time for me to ask him  things like, “Did you dance to Paul Davis’s ‘Cool Night’ at your prom?” and then when the video for Key Largo came on, it was “Did you ever dress like Bertie Higgins?” He actually had me convinced for a second that he did.

2. The Soft Rock Encyclopedia Girl

All this yacht rock over the reason had me going through lots of feelings, and that in addition to the fact that I talked to my friend Carol last week had me thinking a lot about The Bad Place where she and I shared an office and also where Henry and I met thousands of years ago. For as many shitty (and I mean S-H-I-T-T-Y) memories that I have of that place, I have some good ones too, and also some neutral ones.

One of the things I remembered thanks to yacht rock triggering, was how the owners of the company, a pair of older-man brothers who I guess were in their 60s at the time, found out that I, a 20-year-old girl who loved goth music, was a fountain of knowledge when it came to the lighter side of rock. I can’t help it, I grew up with LiteFM swarming all around me! I spent 90% of my childhood in my pappap’s house, in his car, and in restaurants, and guess what was playing in all of those places? SOFT ROCK.

Anyway, whenever I would have to go into the bosses’ office (usually for some dumb reason like getting their lunch order or being bullied by their meat-thrusting—no, literally; I was a vegetarian working in an actual meat place and they loved to fucking torment me. There isn’t enough therapy in the world to help me get over some of the shit I went through there LOLugh), they would love to say, “QUICK! Who sings this?!” I mean, sometimes that would be the actual reason why they called me into their office in the first place, because they actually couldn’t remember who sang something. They thought it was wild that I knew about this “old stuff” even though some of it was only from the 80s, it wasn’t like classical music or something.

I will never forget this one time in particular when I knew who Aaron Neville was and one of them was so entertained by this that he slammed his glass of whiskey down and howled.

I can still hear them. “Call the girl in here and see if she knows!”

(Yeah. I was “the girl” for 4 years. It was super awesome.)

3. COFFEE TABLE REFURB

Several years ago—wow, maybe around 8??—we found this cheap-ass coffee table at Goodwill and made it into a photo collage which was great until someone spilled water on it and we found out that Henry hadn’t sealed it good enough so one part of it started to rise up. The underneath of it was like particle board or something so it basically ballooned.

You can click here to see the old table:

Future Heirloom: Fini!

Then, over the years, some of the photos just became irrelevant (see also: they featured people who paddled their douche canoes right the fuck over me) so I was like, “Bro, we gotta change up this table.” So Henry ripped out the center and we repainted the table, then ordered the new pictures, which–surprise surprise–are all from our Korea trips because I can’t imagine ever tiring of looking at those, lol.

So now I have all of these pictures ready to go but the kitchen takes precedence, so we’re basically using a piece of unfinished wood as our coffee table. Truly, our house is a fucking wreck right now and I could cry, but one day, everything will be nice and COVID will be a chapter in a closed book and you guys (anyone? hello?) can come over and pretend like my house didn’t recently have a torn up kitchen and two holes in the ceiling from where the bathroom is leaking and the landlord hasn’t fixed it yet. This might not be until 2025 and it could be a completely didn’t house in a different town by then so don’t ask me for directions just yet.

4. TAEMIN – DOOR

This might be my favorite pin of all time. Pins (mostly just kpop and horror designs) are the ultimate impulse purchases for me so when I saw this Taemin design on Etsy, I didn’t even hesitate. Buying myself little gifts here and there is how I’m surviving the pandemic, OK?! (Well, that and diligently wearing a mask and social distancing.) This pin is a commemoration of Taemin’s legendary “Door” performance and the pin maker really nailed the vibes. Usually, when I post kpop stuff on Instagram, only fellow kpop stans like or comment, but this time, a lot of my friends liked it and some of them were even like “ok, that’s pretty awesome.” I mean, you can’t deny it!

Anyway, please enjoy Taemin’s “Door” performance, because I haven’t shared a Taemin video in a hot minute! (He’s supposed to have a comeback this summer and I’m over here waiting, and waiting, and wai-HEYHEYHEYHEY-ting.)

5. Nightly Walk with Chooch

Just got back from a nightly neighborhood walk with Chooch. I like these walks because it’s like being part of an ambling, rambling talk show where I rarely get a word in edgewise, but I learn so much about my kid. Tonight’s route took us into the bowels of Brookline and it was borderline alarming when Chooch started out all of the houses he’s sold cookie dough to in the past, you know, when we didn’t know he was walking around like an under-aged door-to-door salesman, cold-calling Yinzers. So that’s always cool.

But then we got to this one block and Chooch said, “Oh, this is a dead-end, btw.”

“I know,” I said in a sneer-tone. “I saw the No Outlet sign.”

“Ooooh, is that what that means? I always thought it meant there was no electricity.”

OMG you guys. He wasn’t kidding either. That’s our gifted son!

**********

Well, that’s a wrap. My stomach hurts because I had to make my own dinner tonight while Henry was at Lowe’s for the 87th time. Good bye.

Jul 092020
 

My original plan for 4th of July was to feast on food from other countries because once again I’m supremely annoyed and disgusted with America so…why celebrate it? I had a whole list of recipes for Henry to prepare but then we went and started a kitchen upheaval project and he was like, “Erin, how would you like me to do this without a functioning kitchen?” Oh, yeah. So, our unAmerican Feast has been postponed, but I’m sure I’ll still be hating my racist, pandemic-enabling country for quite some time so this celebration will be relevant no matter which day it gets moved to, I’m sure.

For years and years and years, we have hated our kitchen. The tile flooring was all cracked and coming up, it was ruined in one corner from when the ceiling was leaking a few years ago, and basically the whole room was just a dumpster fire because we let it get so out of control plus it’s small to begin with and we don’t own the house but we knew if we asked the landlord to make updates, he would raise our rent so we have been living with it. It sucks because our back porch is so nice but then you have to walk through the kitchen to get to it so we would never really open that up during parties because I was so embarrassed of the kitchen.

But then Covid happened and let me tell you something – the upside to quarantine is, well, having all the time in the world to fix shit. I was like, “Look, now is the perfect time to do something, ANYTHING, about this kitchen.” It made sense to buy new storage/counter thingies from IKEA because that’s something that we can always take with us if/when we move, and painting can always transform a room, but I was fixated on that floor. Finally, Henry found a reasonably-priced floor that he can install himself, and calculated that it would cost us less than $150 once it was all said and done.

SOLD.

So, as I said, that is how we ended up spending the long holiday weekend – with the kitchen floor ripped up and the rest of the kitchen spread out among the rest of the first floor. Basically, do not come knocking on our door right now because it is a fucking shit show up in here.

Friday and Saturday sounded like major construction was happening over here, with Henry using Big Shot Tools to rip out the old floor and then all the hammering required to lay down the plywood. I’m sure Blake & Haley were FUCKING THRILLED.

I asked Henry if doing all these measurements is annoying and he said that he enjoys it?! What a hammer-nerd! Also, note the chewed-up pencil. That’s either the work of our Son the Goat, or Henry desperate for sustenance because I wouldn’t let him take any breaks haha.

Anyway, since literally all that happened during the three-day weekend was kitchen stuff, all of the days blended together so I just realized, as I’m sitting here zoning out to Hwasa’s “Maria,” that I don’t think I’ll be able to do a very accurate weekend recap, so I guess we’ll just look at pictures and go from there?

Sometime on Saturday, I went with Henry to Home Depot to get the new flooring (gag, I know, but Lowe’s didn’t have the floor we wanted). I stayed in the car and listened to yacht rock (separate post on that forthcoming – I had a REAL TIME) because, no thanks. Anyway, I thought that since we got the floor that meant he was going to come home and immediately lay it down, but turns out that was false since it is now Thursday and our current floor situation is plywood, which is still an upgrade from what was there before, let me tell you.

After Home Depot, we went to pick up our pints at Sugar Spell, and saw this anti-masker dipshit on the way, although he is also holding an upside down flag, so I’m not sure what side exactly he’s on, unless he doesn’t know that it’s upside down? I mean, he doesn’t seem very bright. I actually made Henry drive past him twice so I could get a picture. Henry was thrilled to obliged, as usual.

Here are the pints we got! I didn’t know that Texas Sheet Cake was a thing, but oh mama, I know now. It was my favorite for a second, but as always, it’s so hard to choose a favorite out of their flavors! Each one of these has its own merits and how can I choose?! I will say though that the Strawberry Pretzel Salad was the first to be polished off.

Banana Graham!

Our big 4th of July dinner was…pizza. It was OK! I was irritated that Henry stopped working in order to eat, but whatever.

That night it was a firecracker battle in my neighborhood, and pretty much all neighborhoods from the sounds of it. There were some really classy ones being shot off somewhere behind the church across the street from us, so Chooch ran around looking for the source, and a good viewing spot. It actually ended up being one of the best fireworks experiences of my life, because of the excitement of it not being city-approved and us running all around in the dark looking for the best ones. I’m admittedly not too big of a fireworks person – I get bored pretty easily and I mean, they’re all pretty much the same, aren’t they? And I always hated trying to find somewhere to go that wasn’t going to be overwhelmingly crowded (I went downtown twice ever and will never fucking do it again, no thanks, I hate people way too much).

I always liked when my mom bought all the illegal ones back in the day and we’d go hard with them in her backyard because we lived on a private, dead-end street surrounded by woods so who cares?

We had to walk past this creepy church door on the way back and in the picture Chooch took, IT LOOKS LIKE THERE IS A GHOST ON THE STEPS INSIDE. But I’m too lazy to ask him for his picture to post here.

Sunday was another hot one. I think we were in the 90s pretty much all weekend, and into the week.

Porch hangouts were limited while the sun was up.

While Henry was toiling away in the kitchen, Chooch and I thought we would be nice and walk to Muddy Cup to get him (and us, obv., no altruism here) some refreshing cold brew.

Our favorite barista was working! It was nice to see a familiar face during this endless streak of months where we’ve really not been seeing anyone but the neighbors.

Meanwhile, Henry was at home, painting.

By the end of Sunday, we were left with a plywood floor, two painted walls, one partially-assembled counter-thingie, and the inability to eat a meal that requires any sort of cooking/preparation.

Henry explained to Chooch that he was going to have to put in some additional outlets, and Chooch cried, “You can do that??”

“I can do anything,” Henry muttered, and then under his breath, he added, “except plumbing.”

Wow, we got a real Bob Vila here! Get this guy his own show.

But seriously, it really is amazing how Henry knows how to do all this stuff! He ripped up the floor and then replaced it with plywood underlayment or something, but it looks like a pro did it! We have the new flooring ready to go but we have to finish painting first and also Henry wanted to build the new IKEA pieces while the plywood is on the floor so that he doesn’t damage the new floor. We are about 60% done, I guess? But it took literally ALL WEEKEND with Henry hardly taking any breaks plus with it being in the 90s, I had to keep checking on him to make sure he hadn’t passed out. See? I care.

So, overall, it wasn’t your traditional “Independence Day” weekend, but it sure felt good to get shit done (or in my case, watch shit get done). I will continue to post updates as we go, but it is a frustratingly slow process because of like, day jobs and whatever. So while he’s toiling away at the Big Stuff, I’m biding my time by looking for accoutrements that fit the theme of the 80s Dream Kitchen. So far, I’ve purchased an Arcade game-themed rug, fabric to make a curtain for the porch door which is so amazing I can’t even describe it so you’ll just have to wait to see it, and I designed a neon light that I have HIGH HOPES for as long as I don’t have to, I dunno, take out a loan for it.

I hate COVID, but I’m glad to have this time to really focus my attention on things around the house because unless the landlord decides to give us the boot for some reason, we’ve got at least another 4 years here while Chooch is in high school because if I move, I’m buying a house and it’s not going to be in the city! So, we might as well put the effort into making small and reasonable (ie. cheap, lol) improvements.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a great weekend and if you have a pool, I hate you I’m totally jealous!

Jul 072020
 

I know you have all been frantically hitting refresh on my blog, waiting with bated breath for an update on my lost package of Korean cassettes. Well, here’s what’s what;

When I told Henry what the USPS dude (BRANDON) told me on the phone, about how it was allegedly scanned in at the 3100 block of my street (I’m on the 3000 block, come n’ get me), Henry was like, “I bet it was delivered to 31xx because they’ve gotten our stuff before!!” and I was like, “THAT MAKES SENSE, I’LL SEND CHOOCH DOWN THERE” because that’s what children are for, right? I think that’s what my manual said, anyway. Page 87: Send children as go-fers to strange houses in exchange for packages?

Chooch grudgingly did as he was told (he was going to walk down there in just socks but like a TRUE MUM I was like, “Boy, putcher shoes on lest you step on some needles or whatnot, shit son use your fucking noggin, this is Brookline not Green Gables. I didn’t send you to a mediocre city school for nuthin’!”

He was gone for a reasonable amount of time, just long enough for me  to forget about him, but not long enough for Henry to be like, “Wait….where’d what’s-his-face go?”

I saw him running up the sidewalk, empty-handed, so I already knew I was going to hate what he had to say.

“No one was home,” he panted. “In fact, I don’t even think anyone lives in that house. It’s that weird yellow one.” And then he named the people who used to live there, like I actually know anyone who lives on this street. Bitch, please.

The next day, Henry and I were walking home from GETTING BEER wow we’re trash, when I walked past the yellow house, stopped, and marched right up to the front door. “If no one lives here, can’t I just open the mail box?” I yelled back to Henry, who was waiting on the sidewalk, not wanting to get involved. I was mindlessly knocking on the door at the same time, not expecting anyone to answer, and was just about to lift open the top of the mailbox when Henry nodded toward the side of the house, WHERE SOME MAN HAD EMERGED FROM THE SIDE DOOR.

I walked down the front steps and met him in the yard. He was looking back and forth between Henry and me, with A WILD LOOK IN HIS EYES. Like he KNEW EXACTLY WHY WE WERE THERE. Like he was HOPING I COULDN’T HEAR THE STOLEN TOTO PLAYING FROM HIS DUSTY RADIO SHACK TAPE DECK.

“Hi, you didn’t happen to receive a package meant for xxxx last week, did you?” I asked in my polite SWEETIE PIE voice. That voice usually works, but not on this GUILTY MAN. THIS GUILTY MAN just looked at me through a glaze of SUSPICION and grunted what I suppose was, “No.”

I thanked him and then Henry and I continued along with our BAGS OF BEER like regular ol’ BROOKLINE FOLK, god, I hate that we were actually carrying beer down the street on the 4th of July like fucking trash.

“He was lying,” I hissed to Henry. “That man has my fucking tapes, Henry. I KNOW IT.” Henry was just like, “Whatever, I can’t wait to crack open one of these sissy beers that I let you pick out.”

Later that night, I checked my email right before going to bed. I had an email from the USPS, with the subject “Your USPS Service Request Has Been Resolved!”

OMG DID THEY FIND MY PACKAGE?! I cried, nearly catapulting Henry off his side of the bed.

WELL, THAT’S A NEGATIVE.

I’m so glad that my lost Korean VINTAGE cassettes are going to help them “work toward improvements.”

They sent me a survey yesterday and I was like, “Oh buddy, I will GLADLY fill out this fucker.” In the additional comment section, I made sure to point out that perhaps if my mail carrier wasn’t constantly talking on the phone every time he delivers our mail, perhaps these mistakes wouldn’t happen. Asshole!

I had to give my work-group the sad update this week because they’ve been ON EDGE about this ever since I pulled them into the fold last Thursday. Lauren said she’s sure that BRANDON and SUSPICIOUS GUY probably split the bounty, and Nate said, “I guess ‘free shipping’ doesn’t mean ‘to your house.'” And Glenn was just shocked that there were other bidders in this auction.

Hearing Duran Duran, Pat Benatar, and Toto on the radio is going to have new meaning to me, now. Sigh. (I didn’t include Saga in this because I don’t know who Saga is and I don’t think I have ever even heard them on the radio, which prompted Henry to yell, “OH I’M SURE YOU HAVE” and then he played me a bunch of their songs and I can promise you that my final answer is still no.)

Jul 052020
 

Another month of reading, in the books! Hahaha, get it? IN THE BOOKS? Ok.

I didn’t join any readathons this time around because I wanted to have a more relaxed TBR and have a more leisurely reading month; Asianreadathon brought out my internal competitor and without even consulting with myself, I embarked on some frantic race to try and read as many Asian-penned books as possible and it was v. stressful….

  1. A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder – Holly Jackson

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Unfortunately, my first book of the month was just so-so. This was young adult murder mystery (I think it’s book one in a series?) about a girl who chooses to focus her senior project on a local murder that she believes was solved incorrectly. Some YA books, if written well, can totally be awesome reads for adults, but this is one that I think only really works for the demographic it specifically targets. I just kept saying, “Oh yeah, sure OK, mmhmm, just like that” through so much of it. Like when our protagonist tails a drug dealer to his house—AT NIGHT—and goes inside to interrogate him and she tells him that she knows he was supplying the murdered girl with drugs to sell at school and he better give her the info she wants or she’s going to expose him and he’s all, “oh no, OK teenager, I will comply” because that is EXACTLY how it would happen IRL.

I didn’t care about any of the characters except for the brother of the boy accused of the murder. And then when you finally find out what really happened, it’s like…oh.

2. The Diviners – Libba Bray

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)

THIS BOOK. I kept hearing so much about this series but put it off because it’s set in the 1920s and for some reason, I thought I wouldn’t like that, but then I got the audiobook for it and HOLY.FUCKING.SHIT. What a wild ride. Apparently, I guess I do like the flapper scene? This is also considered YA and people kept saying it was “so scary” and it is pretty chilling at times, but if you already like horror, you’re probably not going to be sleeping with the lights on after reading this or anything. But the story is very compelling, entertaining, and historically interesting (it touches on segregation and prohibition, and has a moderately diverse cast of characters).

Speaking of the characters, this cast is so fleshed-out, well-developed, stuffed with personality, you will find it hard to pick a favorite. (I personally oscillated between stanning Sam and Jericho!)

But yo, the audiobook is EVERYTHING. It’s narrated by January LeVoy and can we start a petition to have her narrate EVERYTHING IN EXISTENCE? Holy shit, her voice is versatile and there are parts where she sings and, unlike Will Patton shitting the narration bed for the Raven Boys series, it was 100% cringe-free. Her 1920s accents and cadence made me tear through this book in no time, and the book itself inspired me to want to know more about that flapper life. I also learned new (old?) slang, like “Everything’s jake” and “I’m on the trolley.”

Libba Bray clearly did a ton of research for this series (I can’t wait to start book 2!) and getting January to narrate it was a real Smartee move.

5 out of 5 for me. I would recommend this one to everyone! Don’t let the YA label deter you!

3. Fake Blood – Whitney Gardner

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I thought this was an actual novel when I got it from Libby, but it’s a graphic novel. Which is fine, but I just wanted a little more from it because the synopsis sounded so cute! A boy likes this girl in his class who is obsessed with vampires so he starts pretending that he is a vampire only to find out that she’s a vampire hunter, etc etc. It’s pretty quick, and the illustrations are cute, but had I probably wouldn’t have read this if it hadn’t been accidental, lol.

4. Turn of the Key – Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key

I was anxious to get back to the thriller game and there have been so many on my list. But I had been hearing so much about Ruth Ware’s Turn of the Key, that I bumped it to the top of my TBR, after putting it off for months. Literally every booktuber I follow salivates over this book so I was excited! I also listened to this on audio (it’s easier for me to listen to thrillers on audio while I work; literary fiction, not so much!) and the narrator was wonderful – she has a beautiful voice and since this book is written in epistolary-style, it felt like she was talking straight to me which I really enjoyed!

So, this is evidently a retelling of Turn of the Screw, which I have never read. And I was unsure about it at first because the setting is a “smart house” in some remote area of the Scottish Highlands. The setting was creepy AF and the smart house actually did add more to the creepiness factor than I anticipated (I couldn’t imagine how something “modern” could work in a haunted house trope because my imagination is a petrified walnut at this point in the quarantine).

But yes, the mystery kept me 100% invested — I couldn’t wait to get to the end and find out WTF happened, how the hell this woman landed in jail for murdering a kid (not a spoiler – it’s how the book starts and is all over the synopsis). I shed legit tears at the end and said, “OH DA-YYYYYYUM” when it was revealed. This book lived up to the hype, IMO, and usually I’m anti-hype.

I heard this is the strongest of all of Ruth Ware’s books, but I think I will still check out her older books and see for myself.

5. Black Chalk – Christopher J. Yates

Black Chalk

Yeah, I fucking hated this book. I hated every character. This is the second “dark academia” book that completely bombed for me so I’m starting to think that maybe this genre isn’t for me? It all revolves a group of college friends in the UK and they start playing some game which I never even fully understood, and basically it just seemed like truth or dare where there are no truths, only dares, and the dares involved doing something embarrassing/racist/provocative with increasingly higher stakes and one of them goes insane and the ending is just like “are you kidding me?”

This is a hot pile. Steaming. I wish I had a physical copy so I could have chucked it across the room when I was done.

6. The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners

OK OK OK, I don’t usually get down with romance but I always hear about Christina Lauren (who is apparently a writing duo!) and this one seemed cute because it’s hate-to-love which, if I’m going to read a romance, I’ll choose that trope, please. Plus, it’s a Hawaii setting and I needed an escape.

SHIT YOU GUYS. I liked this book so much more than I was willing to admit at first, lol. It was FUN and cute and I liked both characters so much and rooted for both of them so damn hard. It’s about the sister and brother of a bride and groom who can’t go on their honeymoon because they, along with everyone but the brother and sister, get horrible food poisoning at the reception (he didn’t eat because he’s adverse to buffets and she doesn’t like seafood, so they were unscathed). Anyway, the bride is like, “Look, you have to go on this honeymoon for us because I won it and they won’t let us change the reservations, etc” and the guy and girl are like UGH THIS SUCKS WE HATE EACH OTHER SO MUCH but they agree and figured that they’ll just do their own thing once they arrive, but then something happens that forces them to have to stick together, and sure it’s a series of ridiculous follies & coincidences that would never happen IRL, but sometimes we need this escape, right?

And I cried at the end. (Happily!)

This is a GREAT summer read. Sit in a sandbox with it and drink something tropical or whatever. It’s a sweet read.

7. Shelter – Jun Yun 

Shelter

This was a carry-over from Asian Readathon and I was so excited when it was available on Libby, but it just didn’t really do it for me. It’s a family drama with a mystery element, but VERY QUIET and slow-moving, yet at the same time, it was very hard to connect to or really get to know any of the characters.

Or maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for this one at the time I read it. I didn’t think it was a bad book by any means, it just didn’t really have the impact that I expected it to have based on the reviews I read.

I do really enjoy books written by Korean authors though, and with this one, I liked that there was a bit of Korean culture strewn about even though the main character was American-born. I would give this author another try in the future.

8. Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other

This was the best book I read in June (maybe even the whole year so far), I can’t stop thinking about it, imagining it in my head as a movie, trying to talk to Henry about it, reading reviews about it, recommending it….It was a journey. 

It follows 12 different people (mostly women, Black, and British) and I really have to tell you that there was not a single character I felt was empty, under-developed, or couldn’t get a clear picture of in my head. Evaristo is A BRILLIANT WRITER and there were numerous times when I was straight-up swooning at her turn of phrase. THIS is what I missed during the years I wasn’t regularly-reading. THIS is the stuff that inspires me to want to start writing again. THIS BOOK IS EVERYTHING.

Every time a character from earlier in the book showed up in another character’s chapter, I was so stoked and giddy!

I rooted for every character. I wanted them all to have the best lives ever. They felt so real to me and please please please please please can this be a movie? (The director better be a goddamned Black woman though!!)

Please, read this book. It’s incredible and there is no way for me to do it justice with my shoddy review skills. Just know that I will be buying a physical copy of this because I NEED IT and this author deserves to stuff my cash in her pocket.

***

This is the first half of the books I read in June! Pretty solid. I’ll be back later this week with the second half. Now I have to go and supervise Henry as he paints our kitchen and then pray some more that this project will be done soon-ish because right now our stove is living in the dining room and we have been eating pizza everyday. I can’t live like this. I mean, I love pizza, but I also love eating home-cooked meals and also we can’t go on the back porch because everything else from the kitchen is currently stashed back there and Penelope is very sad about this because the back porch is where she goes to sun bathe and she’s very confused about how it turned into a walk-in pantry in disarray overnight.

It will be worth it. It will be worth it. It will be worthit. It will beworthit. It willbeworthit. Itwillbeworthit. ITWILLBEWORTHITITWILLBEWORTHITITWILLBEWORTHIT.

Jul 032020
 

We’re on the cusp of a new weekend, but here is some shit about last weekend, because we’re really on the ball around here.

Chooch has been reading Odd One Out by Nic Stone, and one of the characters apparently makes crossword puzzles, so this inspired him to pull out one of his crossword puzzle books last Friday night which got a big groan out of me because “I’m going to do this crossword puzzle” is Chooch-speak for “Help me do 95% of this crossword puzzle.” He is RULL smart when it comes to math, but shit son, we failed you in the common sense department. Big time.

Crossword Puzzle-solving Chooch is easily in my Top 5 least favorite / most frustrating versions of Chooch. Look, even the cat is trying to get away!

Chooch: What’s a word for bagel dealer?

Me: Deli.

Chooch: Mmm, no I don’t think so.

*five minutes later*

Chooch: So apparently it’s “dele.”

Nope.

On Saturday, Henry and I went to this one nursery place in Allison Park or somewhere near that which is an area we don’t frequent very often so it’s always like being there for the first time and nothing looks familiar. Anyway, Henry stopped at Sheetz first to get gas and coffee. I waited in the car because I still think it’s dumb for us both to go in stores if I already know what I want and he can just be the sacrificial Covid-lamb.

Whenever he gets back to the car, he always gives me the “No Mask” report. This time, he saw a bitch without a mask just in time to let the door shut on her and he was so smug about it, and usually I would make fun of him but this time I was like, “YOU ARE A REAL FUCKING HERO” and there was not even a smidge of sarcasm in my delivery, you guys, I fucking meant it. Never before has Henry been so attractive to me than when he’s actively shaming the anti-maskers. Sic ’em, Henry!

We take mask-wearing very seriously in our house.

That afternoon, I had an alarm set because this indie designer I follow on Instagram was going live with some new items and I knew as soon as I saw this one that I had to have it because it has such Gillcrest Vibes.

Her tops are made-to-order from vintage tea towels and other vintage fabric and this one had my name written all over it. Of course, there is typically only one available in each design but I was able to snag it in time!

Oh yeah, I forgot about the nursery part of the morning. We went there and bought flowers. We were the only customers so I didn’t feel scared. Then we came home and put the new plants in the flamingo planters I bought when I was originally searching for a flamingo chair for the porch, lol. I get sidetracked super easily.

See that metal cat back there? Many many many moons ago, pre-Henryship, I went to the Three Rivers Arts Festival with my pal Lisa; that was our tradition every June, starting back when we were in high school, because it made us suburbanites feel cool to take the T into town. And then it got even more convenient once I moved to my current house after high school, because I’m within walking distance of a trolley stop so my friends could just park here and we’d walk on over, as opposed to when we would have to drive to South Hills Village mall, which is the last stop (or first, depending on how you look at it I guess!) on the line, because we could park in the lot there.

(Wow, that was a lot of boring words. I’m only operating on half of a brain today because I did a 50 minute kickbox workout first thing this morning and I’m toast.)

Back to the cat.

One year, it must have been about 20 minutes I guess, OMG, I saw this one vendor selling these awesome metal sculptures. Of course when I saw the cat, I had to have it. If I had to guess, I would say I still had an American Express that my mom paid for, which is probably how I was able to buy this as an unemployed 20-year-old, lol.

And then the fun part was having to lug it all the way back to the trolley stop, receive angry glares from all the people on the T who had to squeeze past it, carry it back to my house, and then spend the next 20 years tripping over it, nicking my hip into it, and snagging my clothes on it. NO MATTER WHERE IT WAS PLACED IN THE HOUSE.

Henry has wanted to get rid of it for years, I’m sure of it, but he is too nice to say anything especially since I’m super sensitive and sentimental of the things that have been in my life longer than he has—I always place possessions above him. I’m such a sweet girlfriend!

But yeah, now this guy has a safe and cute place all to himself and I think I have even noticed some passers-by giving him a smile. (Not my least favorite mom from when Chooch went to the shitty Catholic school across the street though; I happened to see her from my window as she walked by last weekend and did a double-take at my yard with this AGHAST look on her mom-face, like she cannot fathom the fact that someone like me, a vulgar HEATHEN, could actually have a cute front yard. God, I hate that lady.)

Then there was this fat squirrel over in HNC’s yard and we lured it over to us and for a moment, I actually thought it was going to charge at us, but then I went in the house and came back with a small apple for it. I lobbed it gently to him and he chased it, put it in his mouth and scampered off with it, like he was a dog with a tennis ball. He took it to the backyard, sat on HNC’s picnic, and feasted! It was fucking amazing, and I don’t care how lame this sounds, it was the clear highlight of my weekend.

We weren’t able to get a picture in time because we didn’t want to disturb him, but Henry took a picture of the abandoned apple, lol.

Meanwhile, Henry ordered a giant bubble thing so that he can look cool in front of his grandkids but then Haley was like, “They’re getting ready for bed, they can’t come out” so Henry played with it by himself, hahahaha.

Then Chooch came out so Henry looked less creepy. People were actually stopping to watch though and I was like, “This isn’t that exciting, guys” but considering the usual excitement on our street involves police and paramedics, I guess this is OK.

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Henry got a toy.

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I mean, this went on for like an hour.

Then Tourette’s walked by!

On Sunday, more bubble action happened, this time with the small children. And Haley introduced her cat Ham to Drew and Penelope! Cousins! It went surprisingly well. Drew hissed once, but no one went into attack mode.

Overall, it was another very nice weekend. I’m still pretty cabin-fevered but at the same time, we have been making the best of it by getting things done around the house that have desperately needed our attention. I mean, our yard, for instance, has been an absolute shit-stain since the second year I lived here when I got new neighbors who decided to tear up a large part of the yard and dump rocks down and then proceeded to not maintain it and it just eventually became a breeding ground for weeds. But not having concerts, amusement parks, and trips to take has really helped us saved money to make it look like an actual family lives here and not, like, drug people.

And this weekend will be spent completely tearing up the kitchen, which Henry started doing yesterday and I am super anxious and uncomfortable about it because in order to make one room look nice, three rooms are now in complete shambles, but hopefully not for long. Just, you know, don’t come knocking on my door anytime soon, lol.

Jul 022020
 

I thought this was just going to be a normal Thursday. I woke up at 7 like normal, had my standard bowl of cinnamon Life while listening to Saints & Misfits (audio books are easier for me to handle while eating!).

Then I exercised and afterward, since it’s my late shift and I don’t have to log on until 11, I went outside and read some more of Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line (always have an audio book and e-book going on in Pandemic Times).

Meanwhile, I received an email from the library saying that I had a book to pick up!! My local library is one of five Carnegie Library branches that recently implemented curbside pickup, so at 9:50am, I threw on my mask and made Chooch accompany me to the boulevard for some library social distancing action. On the way there, the former owner of the local Greek restaurant who now hangs out in front of Pitaland told me he likes my tattoo (the Marcy one, natch) which made Chooch groan because he hates when I get complimented.

Then, I didn’t understand how curbside pickup works (I was apparently supposed to call first and let them know I was coming so that the librarian could get my books ready, oops, lol) which resulted in me struggling to small-talk the library security guard while I was waited for my books, but then conversation came natural when we determined we were both aligned in the WEAR A FUCKING MASK stance, so we bitched to each other about how selfish some Americans are and how we just want things to be normal too but we also want people to be safe, which somehow segued into him telling me that he’s part Cherokee descent and has type 2 diabetes but takes care of himself and has been getting stuff done around the house, and then my books came out in a paper bag but he kept talking and I couldn’t hear everything he was saying because we were standing 6 feet apart, both wearing masks, and there was traffic.

But it was still nice to talk to a person! Chooch rolled his eyes when I said, “Thanks for the chat!” and I secretly rolled my eyes at myself too because since when do I say things like that? Quarantine has turned me into a middle-age person.

Then! A block away, some guy stopped us and asked, “Where is the cell phone place? I need to get my cell phone fixed” and we were like, “Um, we’re standing right next to it” and he acted like we saved his life, so that was a real boost.

Then! A few minutes after we returned home, I had just sat down with my coffee and a handful of pistachios when someone knocked on my door. I immediately panicked because WHO?!!? If it’s just a delivery, they only knock once to announce the presence of the package (which is usually something boring for Henry) and then retreat, but after the knock, I noted that there WAS A SILHOUETTE on the porch.

I stole a peek out of the front window and saw that it was a lady, dressed in casual attire. So, not a constable serving me papers or the gas company ready to fuck up my day. (YOU NEVER KNOW.) I gingerly opened the door and squeaked out a hello because OMG STRANGER ON MY PORCH. (Meanwhile, we have a fucking security camera that I could have accessed immediately from my phone and I am only now thinking of this three hours later.)

“Hi,” she said nicely and not in a stern, “I AM HERE TO MAKE A CITIZENS ARREST” Karen-tone. “You dropped these over by the post office on the boulevard, and we were already out walking anyway, so we walked over here,” she said, nodding toward her male walking partner pacing on the sidewalk.

He waved.

I took what was in her hands and realized immediately that it was a stack of EVERY SINGLE FUCKING PIECE OF ID AND CREDIT CARD I HAD IN MY WALLET, which I had apparently not zipped up all the way after showing the security guard my ID outside of  the library so he could attempt to locate my books himself which he obviously couldn’t since the librarian hadn’t pulled since I didn’t know how to FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS AND CALL THE LIBRARY AHEAD TO SCHEDULE MY PICK-UP and do we see now how the dominoes are so sensitive to the touch!?

I had no idea that I had been dropping pieces of my life along the boulevard like the most valuable breadcrumbs, but thank god someone honest got to them first! And yes, everything is there, even my LIBRARY CARD THANK GOD.

Anyway, I felt so bad because as usual I have no cash on my person because I would have liked to have given her something for her good deed, and now I’m kicking myself because I realize that I had several Starbucks giftcards in that stack that she returned to me and I should have given her one! But my luck, it would have been the one that had 4 cents left on it.

So, in order to pay it forward, I will make a donation to a charity today. Not sure which one yet. I will put lots of good thinks into it!

And then, around 11:30, my phone rang. It was a local number and I was like OH GOD WHAT NOW but I answered it because it could have been work-related (I have reluctantly been answering my phone a lot more now that I’m working from home; that’s not going too well).

Turns out, it was some postal clerk from the Castle Shannon post office.

OK, flaskback:

So last week, I won an eBay auction for a collection of Korean-import cassettes (featuring Duran Duran, Toto, and Pat Benatar, lol) because, well, just because. Anyway, tracking said it was delivered on Saturday but NOT TO MY HOUSE, IT WASN’T. So I filed a report and now some weird guy from the Castle Shannon post office is “investigating” this and when he called today, he said he actually WENT TO THE HOUSE it was delivered to, to see if he could retrieve it, but no one was home. He asked me if they brought it me (literally it’s a house a block away so you would think, but no).

I told him this much, and he got super serious. “OK. I’m going to go back there and see what I can do. Hang in there.”

I hung up and couldn’t stop laughing because it’s just some cassettes that cost me $6.50, but I mean, the value that my heart has for them is priceless, so.

Actually, I just had a dream last night that I went to find the package myself, and I traced them back to some shitty park that was also half-garbage dump in my neighborhood (which could actually exist) and as it turned out, this is a dumping ground for all sorts of misplaced mail and I FOUND MY PACKAGE–it was ripped open but the tapes were safely stowed inside, so I covertly tucked the package under my arm and tiptoed away before someone could catch me….catch me what? Stealing back my own package? I guess so.

Then I had…relations…with some guy from high school who I 100% forgot existed and was a total nerd-alert, and I can’t even remember his last name, so clearly my missing package of Korean import cassettes is really taking a toll on me and all sorts of subconscious levels.* I’m so excited.

*(This was still part of my dream, thanks! NOT A CONTINUATION OF THINGS I DID TODAY BEFORE NOON.)

Jun 302020
 

I know quarantine is starting to lighten up in some places and some of you may be cautiously tiptoeing back out into the wild, but I’m here to share some more YouTube fitness channels that have been giving me life during these dark months just in case you’re like me and staying the fuck at home.

This edition is specifically Black YouTube fitness content creators, which is not going to be difficult for me to curate considering there are quite a few that I rely on to get my heart rate up on the daily!

  1. KUKUWA!!

Sometime back in April, I had this urge to search “African dance fitness” because I was looking for something to add to the Kpop cardio rotation. I am INSANELY picky when it comes to dance fitness. I will turn my nose up at most Zumba-like channels, and honestly I dislike most dance cardio channels in general. I think it’s the music choice, mostly. The first channel I found was Kukuwa, and they have been spoiling their subscribers with weekly live 15-minute quickie workouts during quarantine, and they ARE SO MUCH FUN.

Kukuwa is in her 60s and some of the moves she does are full-on back-breakers, and I am like, “Lady, I cannot bend over that far, goddamn.” I love these gals, and Kukuwa’s daughter Cass even has a special 45 minute birthday jam workout which features the traditional African music that you will quickly come to love during these routines, but then she mixes in RUMPSHAKER. God yes. I love this channel. I’m going to buy one of their shirts!

Kukuwa’s gonna have you moving you boomsey in no time, guys. Trust.

(I really like doing these first thing in the morning because I don’t have to put shoes on!)

2. Fit Body By Ashley 

I love Ashley! Whether you’re looking for some authentic Jamaican vibes or a 90s throwback routine, Ashley’s there for you! You’ll just feel like you’re back in high school, trying to nail Patra’s patented Butterfly moves while watching her videos on BET in the privacy of your bedroom, and not doing actual cardio. The expressions she makes will make you want to get off the couch and dance like no one’s watching, right along with her (to be fair though, I make sure Chooch is outside or like, playing Minecraft so that he won’t make fun of me or feel disturbed at the sight of his mom doing the .

This one is EVERYTHING:

This is the one I just did earlier this evening and it was SO FUCKING FUN and I sweat my ugly face off, it was great:

3. Afrifitness

I love Rachael so much! Her voice is so soothing to me, and her workouts are just the right intensity for when I’m looking for something quick to do either my during my work break or while waiting for Chef Henry to make me dinner. And they’re easy to follow so you don’t need to be like a skilled dancer or anything. I recommend this one for days when you might have less energy or brain power and just want a simple circuit-like low-impact cardio workout to combat all the desk-sitting!

Also, last week she had a video titled “Goodbye YouTube” or something and I fucking FLIPPED OUT but then watched it and she admits it was click-bait to get people to watch it because she’s donating the money that video earns from views to the Cece Yara Foundation, which helps create safe lives for at-risk Nigerian children. <3

4. Keaira LaShae!!

I’ve been subscribed to Keaira’s channel for several years now after seeing her on PopSugar and BeFit and then finding her channel from there. Her personality is SO BRIGHT! I can’t do half of the things she does in her workouts because I have literally no rhythm, but I try to twerk along as best as I can. Lately, she’s been doing YouTube live workouts and the best is WHEN HER HUSBAND JOINS IN. Even Henry likes those ones, lol. Her husband gets so distracted watching her and it cracks us up. I mean, you can’t blame him!

5. MrHelioFaria

This guy has a ton of cardio dance videos ranging from Soca to Samba, and they’re pretty accessible even for all the double-left-footed bitches out there like me. I also like that he changes location a lot throughout the videos so it keeps it fresh! The music helps me to pretend like I’m on vacation and not isolated in my crappy house. Sigh.

Do you think you’ll try any of these? Ya gotta let me know if you do! I love sharing my “home gym” favorites and I hope some of them end up being your new favorite cardio go-to! Subscribe and give them some love!

Jun 292020
 

Hello. I’m off today. Here are some updates.

8:00am Breakfast & Book:

Not pictured: me vacuuming up the dirt from the succulent Penelope knocked over while chasing her tail on a windowsill.

9:00am: Exercise Around the World Time!

Kukuwa African Dance Fitness!

Leila Isaac Bellydance Abs!

Give Me Five Thailand Kpop Dance Fitness!

10:00am: Porch Hangs with Wet Hair Kid

“I’m taking pictures of everything I do on my day off.”

“Wow. That’s so cool,” Chooch said dryly.

Then he ditched me for Blake so it became Solo Porch Hangs until the sun started burning my arm so then it became Couch Hangs as I read more of my book.

11:30am: Morning Snack

Half pink grapefruit, longan, dates.

Not pictured: me scouring Chooch’s garbage dump bedroom in search for his swim trunks so he can go swimming over Haley’s dad’s house; also I finished my book.

Also not pictured: Me walking into Drew’s trajectory as she attempted to leap from the stool to the coffee table, resulting in her giving my right calf a nice deep scratch, and then having to clean up a container of cat treats which she knocked off the dining room table. This is a great day off work so far!!

Furry terror.

12:00pm: CATCHING UP ON NEW KPOP VIDEOS, STARTING A NEW BOOK, & SURPRISE VISIT FROM HENRY

https://youtu.be/Is7glC9Jp7Q

Henry sits amidst the cat playground.

Not pictured: Henry is also unable to locate Chooch’s swim trunks.

1:00 POST-SECOND-WORKOUT LUNCH TIME

I was bored and did a kickbox abs workout on Popsugar and now I’m eating a salad which henry had to help me with before leaving to go back to work. I’m relaxing and starting “Patsy,” because I just realized it’s due to be returned in 2 days—ugh library deadlines! Keeping me under pressure!! I love to be stressed.

3:30ish: CHAI LATTE WALK

After spending most of the 2:00 hour researching side dishes around the world for our unAmerican 4th of July celebration (I mean, it’s only gonna be the three of us), I wanted a chai latte and made the mistake of walking to Muddy Cup, where the new-to-me young girl working was not wearing a mask, so that’s cool, and also I forgot that Muddy Cup uses that shitty liquid chai premix that Starbucks uses so it was not great.

You can tell by how light the color is!! Gross.

Oh well, at least I got in some steps. I guess now I will read some more.

4:30ish: IKEA TEXTS

Henry is at IKEA getting shit for the kitchen and I’m outside texting him more things to get while watching this lady spending the last 10 minutes examining my neighbor’s refuse:

She has gone through every drawer three times like she’s looking for a hidden cameo or treasure map.

Oh shit! I just realized what she’s doing. She’s removing all the handles/knobs. Fuck. I wish I had thought to do that.

5:00pm: STILL ON THE PORCH, I AM BORED

But I’m wearing my favorite Cure shirt :)

6:00PM: WAITING BY THE WINDOW

Chooch still hasn’t returned from swimming (in soccer shorts because his swim trunks have mysteriously disappeared without a trace; look for the upcoming made-for-Lifetime movie, is Lifetime even still a TV channel?) and Henry is still “at IKEA” allegedly never mind he just called me and he’s almost home thank god because Drew and I are attention STARVED.

(Penelope has been crashed out in Chooch’s room all day and could give a shit about what the rest of us are doing, so.)

Update! Henry is home with the IKEA stuff and when he was unloading everything into the house, TOURETTES came ambling last and spent a long time looking at this garbage:

Then! He had a conversation with HNC!!

He used to live in the house next to HNC and they are still friendly, I guess. I think I heard HNC call him Dave, who would have thought he has an actual name??!!

6:30PM: IS WHEN WE HAVE DINNER

Henry uses frozen cauliflower as the base for my smoothie bowls and it’s a freaking game changer.

7:00PM: WAITING FOR CHOOCH LIKE…

OMG HE’S HOME:

Also, I know this is shocking but it’s time for more exercise! But more specifically, ITS JILLIAN TIME!

(I’m an exercise addict; there were some I didn’t even account for on here today lol ugh my life is so rich.)

8:00PM: IT’S WIND DOWN TIME

Ok, I’m going to spend the rest of the night watching Booktube and eating fruit, and also getting on Henry’s nerves with my unAmerican 4th of July non-celebration.

Here he is on Amazon looking for a knopfli sieve in preparation for the weekend lol.

(Apparently he just needs a ricer which is funny because someone recently asked me at work if henry used one and I was like THE FUCK IF I KNOW, SON. Guess I have my answer now.)

Jun 272020
 

Hi guys, man, are you all in for a treat tonight or what. (You’re not.) Here’s bunch of religious stuff I keep in the bathroom because somewhere along the way, the theme of my loo became “Holy Shitter.”

I got this at a flea market and Henry was like, “WHAT WILL YOU DO THIS??”

Hang it above the toilet, duh.

The “Pray” mixed media thing is from a local artist, bought at least 15 years ago at the Three Rivers Art Festival. The thing below it is Victorian mourning art that I created one year when I decorate my desk at work like a funeral home, that sexy Jesus was bought during a delicious lunch at Zenith a long time ago, and that crucifix was given to me by the venerable BARB.

 

My pal Wendy got me this cool wooden art from Mexico. <3

Here you will find my Saint Rita statue guarding some of favorite pins and my CHUU face mask. Also, I dusted that after I took the picture, lol, I’m great at house work.

Chooch’s godfather Brian gave me this when he was moving; it was from his office at whatever church he was working at, who knows. But it must be extra-holy since it came from a church office!

UGH I GOT THIS IN JEONJU, SOUTH KOREA, WHEN CAN I GO BACK??

Janna got me this from her trip to Mexico several years ago. It used to have a mirror in it but then it fell off the wall and broke and I stuck a picture of Chooch in it which gave me double bad luck. (Side note: I love that my friends go to Mexico and bring me back religious things!)

Oh shit, this is my favorite thing in the bathroom (I mean, second only to that cool crack in the wall – this house is old as, well, shit)! When Henry took me to my very first flea market in….2005 I think? I saw this for $2 and knew I had to have it. He was like, “WHAT? NO.” but I bought it and he’s hated it ever since (along with pretty much everything else in this house!).

Erin & Henry Go to the Flea Market: Throwback Thursday

And it only makes sense that I would have a bunch of GODS on my shower curtain, which really pulls the whole room together, if we’re being candid with each other here, and I do believe we are.

So now you know that if you ever need to buy me a present (you never know!!!), I love religious kitsch. Just don’t be offended when it ends up in my bathroom – that’s where the cream of the crop are on display!

Well, on that note, I’m going to go back to staring lovingly at the new plants we bought today.

Jun 262020
 

Hello from Erin’s Day Off! It’s silly how giddy having a day off makes me considering I haven’t been going into the office since March but just knowing that I didn’t have to log on and sit in front of the computer all day (as I’m sitting here on my laptop, lol) made me feel so light! And it’s a beautiful day, weather-wise and also because today Chooch and I kick-started the new Summer Breakfast Club series! Woo hoo! Let’s just start with that, shall we?

  1. Summer Breakfast Club

OK, full disclosure, I’m still not about that restaurant life so our work-around was to walk to Orbis Caffe and grab some take-away breakfast and then find somewhere safe and secluded to devour it. I made sure we were masked and had hand sanitizer in my bag, and then we set off this morning for Orbis Caffe in Mt. Lebanon, which always has the nicest people working there but some of the most stuck-up clientele. (See also: Mt. Lebanon.)

Today, Orbis had an extensive selection of quiches to choose from, and Chooch and I both settled on the tomato, chick pea, black bean, something or other. Chooch also got a hefty peanut butter blossom and I got something called a Chocolate Cloud which was like a giant macaron smashed into a Ferrero Rocher, I don’t know how else to explain it, but it was delicious yet very difficult to eat.

Anyway! We managed to make it through the ordering process without being touched or sneezed on and and then we walked to the nearby cemetery to have a little AM picnic with our dead friends. 

It was actually pretty perfect, you guys. We got to support a local business and spend quality time together (mostly, we bickered a little but that’s par for the course when we’re together for more than 4 minutes) in a safe, controlled environment. Go on, call me a pandemicnoid, but I’m trying to do my part to keep the curve down so that I can FUCKING GO TO A GODDAMN AMUSEMENT PARK without wearing a mask or making a reservation, OK? But until then, MASK IT UP, BITCHES. 

Chooch was like, “This isn’t weird at all” because it’s not like we haven’t ever picnic’d in a fucking cemetery before. This was just our first breakfast in the cemetery!

2. Speaking of Quiche….

I have for sure talked about him on here before, but in the summer of 1992, my mom surprised us all by arranging for a foreign exchange student to spend the summer at our house. And when I say “surprised us,” I mean that she literally waited until the night before he was set to arrive to be all, “Oh yeah, by the way, hahahaha” and none of us believed her until she rolled up the next day with Laurent, 15, from France in tow. So, that happened. And my dad was P-to-the-ISSED. And I was annoyed too because I would have liked to have been a part of this decision and also I was annoyed because he immediately liked my friend Christy better than me, god forbid (though I can admit now that I would also like her better than me if I was a boy in 1992, no hard feelings toward Christy!). 

So this one night, my aunt Sharon (bless her) tried to do something nice and offered to order a quiche from god knows where (honestly, where did that quiche even come from!?) and when she brought it over to our house for dinner, we all sat around the table and my dad, in his patented condescending smirk-tone, goes, “Real men don’t eat quiche.”

Silence.

Then I started giggling, because again, I didn’t like Laurent, and this was the ONE SUMMER that saw my dad and I aligned, bonding over our mutual dislike for this dumb French kid, forgetting for 2 months that we were generally mortal enemies. 

OMG my mom was so pissed. And I’m not sure Laurent even knew what my dad meant by this because his English was a little spotty, but it was one of those moments that I will probably retell every time I see/eat/hear about quiche until I eventually take it to the grave. 

Man, what a summer that was. 

3. RIP Joel Schumacher

Man, this one hurt. (See also: should I start all of my sentences with “Man,” from now on?) You all know how much I love The Lost Boys and I had been holding out for YEARS for a real Schumacher-helmed sequel (those weird follow-ups that came out in the 2000s DO.NOT.COUNT). 

Obviously, I’m mega-inspired to watch The Lost Boys in his honor this weekend, but I also want to watch St. Elmo’s Fire, which I FUCKING LOVE and haven’t seen since probably the 90s when I was obsessed with it and made Lisa and Janna watch it once when they slept over my house but THEY FELL ASLEEP.

Also, that movie made me become obsessed with David Foster.

OMFG I am straight sobbing on my living room couch in the middle of a Friday afternoon in an empty house and I need someone to come here right now and hold me (from 6 feet away).

Which also reminds me that I used “Hands Across America” as a lead-in to a training presentation I gave at work last week, as a way to remind everyone that WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, AS ONE DEPARTMENT, CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG, and it was so well-received that I took a step further by suggesting that once we return to the office, we recreate it, as “Hands Across [Our Department’s Name]” only we’ll just stand 6 feet apart.

Manager Amber was like, “……yeah” and then quickly changed the subject, lol. 

4. WHAT DID YOU SAY? WHAT DID YOU SAY TO ME?

Man, in my weekend recap the other day, I failed to mention that when we were hanging outside with Haley and the kids Saturday evening Tourette’s lumbered on by and we all collectively held our breaths, because you never know with him.

But he seemed to be in a pleasant-by-his-standards mood and jovially hollered, “WOW LADY, YOU GOT A TOUGH JOB THERE” to Haley and Henry was like, “Maybe thinks we’re all your kids” but then as he walked away, Calvin (who is 3, mind you) started yelling “soccer” because he wanted Chooch to throw a ball to him. 

Tourette’s, now in front of the next house, stopped in his tracks and shouted, “WHAT DID YOU SAY?”

When no one responded immediately, he yelled with more agitation, “WHAT DID YOU SAY? WHAT DID YOU SAY TO ME?” 

“He said ‘soccer’,” Haley answered, before Tourette’s decided to come back and what, fight Calvin? Who knows! That guy is a loose cannon! Never forget when he flipped out on Chooch last summer!

5. GTFO MAGA

Update on the gross MAGA house on my street: one of the banners is back :( Imagine being the type of person that lets a flag like this fly freely in front of their trash palace.

Never mind, I started to imagine but I don’t like how it made me feel. 

Speaking of that barf bag, I was so proud of my Kpop fam for the A+ trolling they did on the Trump campaign last weekend, that I was spamming all of my work friends about it on Monday. 

“I read this one headline about kpop stans – was that a typo?” Amber asked me, and I had to then explain in a group email what a stan is and then we even talked about it in our team meeting which then prompted Amber to watch the Eminem “Stan” video and she was, as expected, disturbed, lol. 

“I guess we should have warned you,” Nate said, and Lauren was like, “Yeah, just the audio would have been sufficient.” I really love my co-workers, lol. 

On that note, I think the new Blackpink MV is the perfect way to cap off this segment of Friday 5:

YEAH TRUMP, HOW YOU LIKE THAT.

***

Man, this was a pretty weak Friday Five but it’s also my day off and I want to do something other than sit and type which is what I DO EVERYDAY LEAVE ME ALONE UGH. 

Jun 252020
 

I was just sitting here wistfully perusing the Roadside America website, wondering if things will ever be OK so that I can lasso Henry into driving hours out of the way to see the world’s largest cuckoo clock or some gigantic Mary statue in rural Ohio. My birthday is a little over a month away and I am desperate to find some safe and sterile road trip that we can go, where all of our meals are take out and we do nature things instead of amusement parks and museums.

Or ghost walks :(

SPEAKING OF, when we were in Williamsburg a few years ago, I conned Henry and Chooch into doing JUST THAT and it was kind of dumb but also fun enough that I still think about it from time to time and also, I hated one of the people on the tour so much that I have a framed picture of her on my bedroom wall*

Anyway, please enjoy. Be safe. Wear your masks so that this will go away and I can go and do stuff again, lol.

Love,
A Megalomaniac Leo

***************

July 2015

One of the things I really wanted to do while in Williamsburg was go on a ghost tour. I mean, you can only watch Colonial actors perform Colonial acts so many times, if at all. You know? (Actually, aside from walking down the main street in the sweltering heat, looking for ginger cakes, we opted out of the Colonial exhibits. As I mentioned previously, we were given tickets for that shit from our resort, but we exchanged them for Busch Gardens tickets instead, because we ain’t be needin’ no history on this vacashun.)

When I told Henry about the ghost tour, he was like, “……”

And then when I was like, “Well, we’re doing it,” he was like, “………………………………”

And then when I was like, “I paid $4 extra a person for the EXTREME version,” he was like, “Oh for fuck’s sake, Erin.”

We left a little bit early so that we could go to this peanut shop we saw the day before, because Henry and I are what you might call “peanut connoisseurs,” in that we often like to partake in the mastication of groundnuts. For example, right now I’m at work, eating a small cupful of peanuts that I cribbed from another part of the department. (Yes, I’m still a snack stealer.)

IMG_6441.JPG

 

Chooch wasn’t feeling it.

Then we visited some some large tourist trap of a shop full of moccasins, souvenirs, and bacon-flavored everything. Basically, an “outpost” stuffed with shit no one really needs. They put a fluorescent vintage VW minivan thing out from and a giant bear to sit on in order to lure people in. It works.

IMG_6529.JPG

Chooch desperately wanted a pen that looked like a rifle, and of course it was basically glowing in neon letters WILLIAMSBURG! CIVIL WAR! HISTORY! MORE THAN JUST A PEN! It was only $5 or something but Tight Wad Hank was like, “NO” which made Chooch sad, and I have to hand it that kid: he wasn’t being too spoiled so far. Sure, he was asking for everything, but 99% of the time, once we said, he moved on.

Except with this pen. He like, needed this pen. His heart was aching for it. So I gave him money to buy it and then told Henry to go fuck himself, basically. Henry just batted at the air with his blue-collared hand and walked away, leaving me to stand in line at the checkout with Chooch, who was getting really tired of thanking every old woman who stopped to tell him they liked his hair. THEN DYE IT BACK ALREADY!

IMG_6444.JPG

We came outside just in time to catch the tail end of Henry taking a picture for two broads who were also drawn off the road by the prospect of sitting on some fake bear’s crotch.

“Hyuk, hyuk, you’re welcome!” Henry was saying after he handed the phone back to them. Of course, Chooch saw right through this ruse and knew immediately that Henry probably had programmed his number into the phone and is by now deep in the throes of an affair. And that’s fine, because Henry’s not my type, anyway.

(Please see: must wear fitted flannels and beanies, be known to attend a Thrice or Circa Survive show BY CHOICE, neck/hand tattoos, preferably in a band.)

I bought our idiot tickets online rather than going to the “general store,” wherever the fuck that is, so once we got back down to Colonial Williamsburg, we walked straight to Bruton Parish, which is where the website said we should all plan on meeting. Since we were already there once that day, I felt less like a tourist since I knew right where to go. (It also helped that it was on the main drag.) Gradually, more and more people started popping up and I was getting angry. How were we going to get the full experience with so many motherfuckers who had the same idiotic idea as us (me)?!

A family of four plopped their asses down near us and naturally, the mom started moving her lips in the shape of small talk; why. Why why why why. Go talk  to your own family!  Henry of course was standing further away with his face firmly planted in his phone, so no one bothered him. This broad was even talking to people who were just passing by. Like, lay off lady!

“What makes this ‘extreme’?” Henry eventually broke down and asked.

“I don’t know, it just says it starts at 9:00* and there’s equipment involved,” I verbally shrugged.

*(Good old 9:00PM. SOME SAY it was the runner-up for the Witching Hour.)

Sometime after 9, some broad from the ghost tour office arrived and started collecting tickets and, thank god, dividing the now-sizeable crowd between several guides. Each group ended up having about 15 or so people in it, and we were separated from the Talker, so I was pleased. Except that in exchange, we got a family of 5 that included A BABY IN A STROLLER.

WHO BRINGS OUT THEIR BABY DURING THE (RUNNER-UP FOR THE) WITCHING HOUR?

We got paired with some hyperactive older woman who Chooch pointed out later reminded him of Ellen, and when Henry had the audacity to ask, “Ellen who?” Chooch shouted in disgust, “SERIOUSLY?! Oh my god” because there is only one Ellen in the world and that is the Degeneres one.

I actually don’t think I ever caught the guide’s name, so we’ll just call her Ellen. Thanks, Chooch.

Ellen was mildly humorous (some of the less intelligent people in our group thought she was a fucking riot, though) and asked us to keep an eye out for horse shit on her behalf since she was backpeddling while telling us historical ghost stories. She encouraged us to take pictures with the flash on. Have you ever taken a picture at night with a cell phone? Well, if you haven’t, get stoked, because you’re about to put your eyes on a shit ton of iPhone night photos, and they are real lookers.

Henry, annoyed before it even started because GHOSTS AREN’T REAL, spent nearly the whole tour trailing behind the group, reading the same status updates over and over on his phone (he only has like, 70 Facebook friends) and probably reading things about the Republican Party and pinning mason jar DIYs on Pinterest. This is what he looked like:

I’m going to go ahead and tell you that this is some kind of paranormal activity that my advanced phone camera picked up.

Turns out that the “equipment” included on the EXTREME tour was one (1) EMF meter. (I had to google that.) Ellen gave it to the vocal non-believer of the group, this broad named Donna, who was there with her husband and two bitch-daughters who were wearing t-shirts that said “Got Ghosts? Williamsburg does.” Chooch hated them right off the bat, and I quickly realized that it was because the one was a huge dickhead whiner just like him.

“I NEED SOMETHING TO DRINK,” she spat at her father through gritted teeth pretty early on into the tour. “I AM LIKE DYING OF THIRST.” God, that sounded familiar. I could almost hear that coming out of her mouth in Chooch’s bitch-voice.

And mine.

Quickly, Father! Run to the nearest haunted Williamsburg well and quench your dumb daughters thirst!

Anyway, DONNA got to hold the EMF meter first and surprise, surprise, she was picking all of the activity! Ellen was delighted. The non-believer was attracting all of the ghosts! Oh ho ho, isn’t that always the way it works? All hail, Donna! She encouraged everyone to bombard Donna with photos because this would be a great time to capture orbs. Of course, Donna’s husband took a photo that basically made it look like Donna was a magnet for paranormal activity. Ghosts were coming down from Salem, for Christ’s sake! DONNA THE NON-BELIEVER’S HERE, GUYS! LET’S APPARATE!

Everyone crowded around to see the poster for Paranormal Activity 6: Douchebag in Williamsburg on her husband’s phone. It was early into the tour so I was kind of interested in what was going on, I wasn’t full-on pouting yet, but I couldn’t get close enough to see what had everyone so excited.

I don’t know what this was supposed to be. Tree. Fence.

Ellen told us a handful of, truthfully, very interesting stories, which had us all gathered around like this:

There was this one broad there with her friends, they were probably in their early 20s, and she was fucking scared out of her mind. I mean, nothing was happening. There were no chainsaws. No scare tactics being employed. And with all the taverns in Colonial Williamsburg, we were far from being the only idiots out there that night.

Henry, closing his eyes to better enjoy Ellen’s stories.

Chooch and I agreed that the best story was about the Ludwell-Paradise House. Lucy Ludwell was the daughter of a prominent family, but her ginger cake was missing some very important ingredients, if you know what I mean.

Let me rephrase that for my non-Colonial friends: she was batshit, guys. I was reading about her on some historical Williamsburg website after the fact, and she is adorably referred to as an “eccentric.” This made me laugh, because I have been called that a lot in my life.

She would get all up in ladies’ grills and tell them that she liked their dresses. And then when they would nervously say thanks, she would ask for the dress! Of course, they’d be like, “The fuck?” and quickly retreat. So she would follow them back to their houses and stand out front, watching through the windows, until she saw that the dress in question was now hanging up outside on the clothesline, and she would promptly go into their yard and take it! Oh, Lucy. Nothing is more charming than a rich person stealing from her neighbors.

Of course, her parents would pay people off to save face. And in order to make people like her, Lucy would invite people to her house and promise them carriage rides, because she had this beautiful carriage that she brought from England. But Lucy’s definition of a carriage ride was to have the help pull the carriage back and forth on her back porch.

Eventually, once her parents were dead and no one was left to protect her, she was thrown in the mental institution, which is now the art museum.

Lucy sounds like she fucking fabulous and the whole time Ellen was regaling us with her story, I felt an electric kinship, like she was watching me through a window of her old house, psychically implanting  me with her lunatic chip. #lifegoals

A tree. Fence.


This was the prison, where Donna was attracting so many motherfucking ghosts it was about time to call in an exorcist, for Christ’s sake. Chooch and I exchanged annoyed eyerolls and silently agreed that Donna was a fuckerbitch.

Chooch’s review: “It wasn’t scary at all and eff Donna.”

The highlight of the tour for me was when DONNA LOST HER PHONE OMG! HER PHONE THAT WAS CAPTURING ALL OF THE GHOSTS IN THE HISTORY OF GHOSTS BEING A THING!

“How the hell did she ‘lose her phone’ when it’s never not in her hand?” Henry grumbled. So we had to linger in front of some house that apparently wasn’t haunted at all but it sure as fuck was scary, while Donna and her husband walked back toward the prison to look for it. Mu theory is that she just needed some extra time to orb-ify more photos with whatever ghost hoax app she was using. Get fucked, Donna.

OMG don’t worry though! Donna found her fucking phone.

FINALLY! MY RUDIMENTARY IPHONE LENS FAKED AN ORB! I was so stoked because I did just as Ellen said and took a series of photos in a row and just like that, one of them produced an orb.

“SHOW HER!” Chooch cried, trying to pry my phone from my hands.

“No!” I hissed. “I don’t want these a-holes passing my phone around!” I mean, what if I got a sext during that time? Talk about a ghost hunt foul.

I just asked Henry for a review and he laughed without mirth, shook his head, and said, “No.” I think he’s still trying to not think about all of the peanuts he could have bought with the money I flushed into this ghost event. My favorite thing to do during the tour was whip my head around and make “OMG!!!!” faces of disbelief at Henry as Ellen told us story after story. He was so mad.

Hilariously, the three of us pretty much walked separately from each other the whole time. God, what a team we are.

I wonder if ghosts and Amish people ever get together and talk about how fucking annoying tourists are.

Ellen showed me some photo of a window on her phone and I have no idea what I was supposed to be seeing, so I just said, “Wow. OK.”

Toward the end of the tour, someone else finally got a chance to use the EMF meter and promptly mistook it as her chance to try out new modeling poses she saw on A Beautiful Mess.  Still not as annoying as Donna though.

I wonder, if no one is paying attention to Donna, does she cease to exist? If Donna falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear her, does she take an Instavid of herself to prove that she made a noise?

Finally, the tour was wrapping up and we all headed back to Bruton Parish, where Donna told us some story about lightning striking and leaving ghoul faces on this grave marker:


And then Donna came flying over to show Ellen more of her doctored photos and I didn’t even try to be subtle about the barfing noises I was making. We left without saying thanks or goodbye to Ellen, but that’s OK because only had eyes for DONNA anyway.

DONNA DONNA DONNA DONNA.

And here I was worried that a baby was going to be the douche of the tour, but no. It was a grown-ass woman. Douchey Donna. I hope she took some evil entity home with her to her Douche Headquarters. She must be so proud of herself, being the star of some dumb ghost tour that no one will ever remember. EXCEPT FOR ME BECAUSE I HAVE A STORAGE UNIT FULL OF GRUDGES.

In summation, I enjoyed the historical and ghost stories Ellen told us (I didn’t write about all of them because they’re all taken from books written by some dude name L.B. Taylor so they can be easily accessed if anyone was interested in learning more) and to be honest, once we ventured off the main drag, it did get kind of creepy. But I would not recommend paying extra for the “Extreme” version because that EMF meter was a fucking afterthought. I don’t even think Ellen even really explained to everyone what it was doing, and she honestly seemed to forget that it was in use most of the time.

As soon as we were out of earshot, I was like, “Fuck Donna.” And Chooch and Henry wholeheartedly agreed, so really you could say that this was family bonding experience. It’s not often we’re all in agreement on something.


*what, you thought I was joking about the picture on my wall??

Jun 242020
 

With the inevitable return-to-work date fast approaching, I’ve been trying to get back into that groove where weekends are wonders to be worshiped. Weekends obviously haven’t felt the same of late since we’re always home during the week now and even when it IS the weekend and we might not have to log on for work, there’s nowhere to actually GO. Literally the definition of first world problems, isn’t it?

My new mindset must be working because my Monday Dread has come back to visit on Sunday evenings! THE POWER OF THE HUMAN MIND. 

Anyway, this past weekend sure was…grand? Do people still say that, or are all the people who used to say that dead now? The weather was great and we spent a lot of time outside fucking around with the almost-garden. I added a South Korean flag so now we’re really representin’! I need to get or make a Black Lives Matter sign too  because I’m tired of the rain washing away my good social activism work on the sidewalk.

But then we kept hearing loud bangs and after carefully analyzing the sound in my brain, I asked, “Were those gun shots or firecrackers?”

Chooch said, “Firecrackers. Couldn’t you hear the crackle?”

“Yeah, but I thought maybe that was gun powder.”

Chooch looked at me like I’m a real stoop, and asked, “…do you know how guns work?”

On Saturday, Henry worked some more on our coffee table update, disappeared for a bit, then emerged from the attic with an actual briefcase full of his old cassettes and I was screaming! “JUDAS PRIEST! TED NUGENT!” I called out before flinging the case open, and boy was I not disappointed! I  know I love to make fun of Henry for his pre-Erin tastes, but the fact of the matter is that I went through a very heavy classic rock phase in my later teen years (though I never cared for The Nuge or Judas Priest…or AC/DC….or Motley Crue….or Aerosmith….OK so our tastes didn’t really align very much!) and I get the most amusement out of picturing Henry in the 1980s, in his late teen years into his early 20s, carefully cataloging and curated his latest National Record Mar acquisitions (or were you more of a Camelot and Music Oasis kind of guy, Henry?). I bet he was the one who fixed all of his friends’ broken tapes too.

The night prior to this, I had bid on a lot of Korean cassettes, as well. Unfortunately, they weren’t tapes of actual Korean artists, but imports of Western artists like Pat Benator, Duran Duran, Toto…but I wanted them because the cases are in Hangul and I think it would make a great art piece, somehow. (Something separate from the spice rack!)

When we were in the car going to get pizza on Father’s Day later that weekend, a Ray Parker Jr came on the “oldies” station we were listening to (I know what you’re thinking: “wha—no Kpop??” but I was reading and Kpop is too distracting because I become too busy trying to see how much I can translate in my head, lol) and Henry was so hyped about this because of his cassette briefcase. And then not one but TWO Toto songs came on, one each way, and neither was “Africa”!

Of course I had to text this to my partner-in-.38 Special love, Lisa. 

And a separate text was sent to Alyson, who questioned the absence of Steely Dan, which brought up a good point: did Henry’s ex-wife gain custody of the Steely Dan cassettes in their split, or could it be that Henry just….DOESN’T LIKE STEELY DAN?

I went on a search for him around the house and found him in the bathroom, re-caulking the tub (whatta man!) and asked him with rushed urgency. You know, now that I think about it, he never really gave me an answer so I still do not know if I’m sharing a bed with a non-fan of Steely Dan.

Steely Dan does seem a bit too uppercrust for him though.

Also on Saturday, a total Karen left me mediocre feedback about how she loved the card but the shipping time was unacceptable and I’m like, “OK sorry the USPS took a week* to get a birthday card to you but maybe put that energy into BLACK LIVES MATTER.”

*a week is not unacceptable; and if she would have noted the tracking info, the card was mailed the day after she ordered it (all of our cards are made to order!!) so this 100% should not have affected the feedback she left me, but it doesn’t fall under the criteria for disputing feedback so I have to live with it I guess. CAN’T PLEASE ‘EM ALL.

We hung around outside with Haley and the kids Saturday evening and it was really nice! It’s been a long time since we had neighbors to hang out with. I guess ever since Toya moved? (I miss Toya. She lived on the other side of HNC with her two songs and invited us over for her older son’s graduation party one year and it was the best fucking grad party I ever went to – ART OF NOISE WAS PLAYING AT ONE POINT!?)

Also, our cat Drew is suddenly enamored with the outside but luckily she stays on the porch so that’s great.

Henry lit some citronella candles, which never ever ever saves me from mosquitoes.

One time in high school, Janna was over and I don’t know where the rest of my family was because they hated me and always went out to dinner (MMM MEAT YUM YUM YUM) or away for the weekend without telling Erin the Black Sheep, but I know it was a Friday night AND THE POWER WENT OUT so I was probably running around and screaming like a jackass because I lived on a private road surrounded by forest and I was certain the attic AND THE FOREST was haunted OMG but then we lit a bunch of candles and having light in my life again calmed me down long enough to declare that OMG WE SHOULD MAKE S’MORES or maybe it was just something as simple as roasting marshmallows with none of the extra sandwiching effects. But we did this, and then later on after my mom came home and yelled at us for spilling wax on the carpet (because Janna tripped while carrying a candle, she just recently owned up to it when I was piecing together this memory with her!), I complained that I didn’t feel well and said something about how it was probably from the s’mores and my mom was like, “What were you making s’mores with?” and I said all snottily, “Uh, with the candles?” because ‘le duh’ amirite? And my mom was like, “THOSE ARE CITRONELLA CANDLES, NO WONDER!”

Anyway, this is how I knew to tell Chooch not to roast marshmallows over a scented candle the other night, or should I have? We clearly learn from our experiences!

And to end, here is a cute picture of Chooch and his niece Lily. <3